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Est. April 5, 2002
November 08, 2018 - Issue 763

It's Time to Start
Restoration of Democracy


"Trump and his friends and colleagues in Corporate America
do not want anything to interfere with their quest for profits. 
It's not surprising, since the only god Trump recognizes is
mammon, the god of money.  He has lived for it and he knows
nothing else, and it is why he has no capacity for empathy
or sympathy with the people of the long march
or the poor in his own country."

Now that the mid-term elections are over, the real work begins.

In our politics, it should be the work of all people of good will to start the restoration of democracy. We have had democracy for a while, but in recent decades, it has been more and more difficult to perceive democracy: That is, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

There are enough scholarly studies that show that the needs and demands of “the people” are not ever really fulfilled, while the demands of the rich and the corporations are fulfilled beyond their expectations. Why is that? It's very simple. Those who have the money, have the power and those who have the power, gather ever more money to themselves. It has been that way for many generations, but the powerful, few that they are, have found clever ways to mask their authority over the vast majority, who are convinced that their votes count and that their opinions count.

You can create oceans of propaganda with enough money, as has been shown. And the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has shown that a partisan court can create any kind of society and nation that it wants. Even though there are some obstacles to the flow of propaganda in America, the overwhelming amount gets through and convinces enough people that there is in one person the salvation of the nation. Unfortunately and pitifully, in the recent short past, enough people were convinced that Donald Trump was that savior. In fact, even as he started his career of fear-mongering and daily boasting of his greatness, he told credulous people that he would save and protect them. He has never stopped his fear-mongering.

In the run-up to the election this week, he selected the march of thousands of people fleeing murder and mayhem in their own countries, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and believing that they could find rest and peace in the U.S. Even if the hundreds that reach the U.S. frontier out of the thousands who started the journey, they will not find welcome or rest or peace. The president, Trump, has declared war on them, adding to their victimization in their home countries. He has imprinted in the minds of his base and some others that these people are some kind of evil force coming to prey on American women. It takes a special kind of twist of mind to convince Americans that the young men carrying their babies on a march of hundreds and thousands of miles are inexorably moving north to do harm. What he has not mentioned is that a large percentage of those marching north are women and their children. He never hesitates to vilify those who are “other,” since he has contempt for the poor and anyone from poor countries, or to separate babies from their mothers who have committed the “crime” of seeking asylum in America.

One issue that should be paramount to all thinking people in the U.S. and all around the planet is the issue of climate change (and global warming), the disastrous results of which are being seen in more parts of the U.S. and the world and the intensity of the storms, hurricaines, floods, and earthquakes is growing. Whatever other issues are being addressed, climate change and environmental destruction should be the foundation of those issues. It's true that those issues are vital to our health and safety and to our rights as citizens (civil and human rights, LGBTQ+ issues, First Amendment issues, the struggle to keep and improve Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, and myriad social programs that provide for our most vulnerable. Under all of that, we should be working to protect the fundamentals of life: Clean water, clean air, wholesome food, decent housing, and the best education that can be provided by a developed nation.

The solutions to all of these problems and the creation of programs and agencies to promote the common good have been brought about over decades by millions of individuals. Many have spent their lives to bring these programs and agencies to fruition. Although the fight against the efforts of individual citizens has never ceased, citizens with comparatively little money have overcome the billions and billions of dollars of the oligarchs and have made some inroads in governments, state and federal. That's where the Environmental Protection Agency came from and where so many other agencies of government have come from. Trump has put in charge of these agencies men and women whose sole purpose was to diminish or eliminate their effectiveness. That goes for social programs, as well as environmental programs, policies, and agencies.

As millions of Americans go back to their particular issues post-election, they should keep in mind that the one issue that the vast majority of scientists around the world are warning is that we are causing the planet to be unlivable, that how we are living is not sustainable and that holds true, whatever our station in life or where we live. We cannot escape it and we don't have much time to make a correction.

Trump and his friends and colleagues in Corporate America do not want anything to interfere with their quest for profits. It's not surprising, since the only god Trump recognizes is mammon, the god of money. He has lived for it and he knows nothing else, and it is why he has no capacity for empathy or sympathy with the people of the long march or the poor in his own country. He rides roughshod over them every day, every time he opens his mouth. To our knowledge, he has never expressed concern for the poor and destitute and certainly never has proposed programs or policies to provide for them.

This election was the epitome of his governance (if you can use that term), as he cranked up the fear of “the other,” by demonizing the Central Americans walking north. He termed it an invasion and sent battle-ready troops to assist the Border Patrol in keeping out the asylum-seekers. What he doesn't seem to have the capacity to understand is that U.S. policy since the founding of the republic has been to interfere in the politics and economies of the nations of the Western Hemisphere. What we are witnessing in the march north is, to a large extent, a product of U.S. policy. The coup in Honduras in 2009 was done with the not so tacit approval of the U.S. State Department. When the coup was accomplished, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the diplomatic corps did their best to recognize the coup government and to legitimize such a takeover.

Out of that action has come the destabilization of that country, just as governments in the region have been destabilized, with government troops, para-militaries, drug cartel violence and other threats to even the most ordinary citizens. That is why they are on the march with nothing but a few necessary items for living and the clothes on their backs, hardly an invading army.

Beth Geglia, writing in in October, gives a stark example of the fear that pervades such countries as Honduras. A researcher and filmmaker based in Washington DC., her doctoral research in anthropology looks at “model city” development in Honduras over a period of a few years. In that country, as in some others, the fear is palpable, every day and night. “Everyone here is like a ticking time bomb,” a friend of hers in Tegucigalpa often told her. “We are all suffering psychologically but we don’t say anything. The things we experience every day, there is no escape from it.”

These words reverberate through my head as I read the news today (of official Washington's perspective on the migrant march). 'There is no escape from it.'” The essence of her take on the situation in Honduras and other nations in the region follows:

As I read the news, I’m also reminded of the moment I learned why my friend Victor slept in a hammock in front of his house. It was March 3, 2016, and I was in the southern region of Honduras, on a peninsula called Zacate Grande, studying land dispossession in rural communities. I had been woken up at 7a.m. that morning to the news that the beloved Honduran social leader Berta C�ceres had been assassinated inside her home the night before. As the sleepy fishing village of La Pintadillera hummed gently with its morning activities, Victor left his radio streaming the news from Radio Progresso, as he did every morning, listening this time with solemn silence. “Bertita” had been a beloved ally to the struggle for land in the entire peninsula of Zacate Grande, and had helped establish their community radio station, La Voz de Zacate Grande, years prior...

“'We will keep doing this work, but we know they can kill us at any moment,' Victor told me the morning of Berta’s death. Then he asked me if I knew why he slept outside at night. I had noticed before that, Victor, a man facing death threats for his involvement in a community association dedicated in part to combating land grabbing and the privatization of local beaches by the country’s economic elite, had taken to sleeping in front of his house. I had assumed it was an act of defiance. Certainly, it was cooler to sleep in the fresh air and perhaps Victor was sending a message to his adversaries that he was not afraid. 'Look at how they killed Berta in her home,' he told me. 'You know that I sleep in a bed with my wife and kids. Imagine if they came in looking for me and found us all there. Imagine if they came in shooting, and…' His voice trailed off before he could continue...”

That's just one of the many reasons that people are fleeing their homes and heading north with the clothes on their backs and a few mementoes that they can carry in their backpacks. They deserve more than being vilified as disease carriers and criminals and parasites, as they have been described by the U.S. president. If there was any expectation that Trump would change his tune in the wake of the losses of the GOP in Tuesday's election, that expectation was erased to nothing during a combative press conference on Wednesday, in which he claimed reporters and the press to be racist and retreated to his signature name-calling of his “enemies” in the press before the entire nation. He's losing it.

One thing that must alarm him, though, are the victories of more women in Tuesday's election than the country has seen before. Even though they must work within the two-party structure, which has proven to be lacking in social progress, the newcomers are sure to shake things up, especially considering Trump's disrespect and contempt for women and blacks and other minorities, not to mention contempt for workers in general (remember, he said during the presidential primary campaign that wages in the U.S. are too high). In the wake of this week's election, it is clear that to regain some of the substance of the nation and society that Trump has destroyed in a short two years, there is plenty of work to do. Much of that will have to be done by the children and grandchildren of those who fought over the past half-century to achieve social progress, environmental protection, and to curb the national impulse to make war and prepare for continual war, which is draining the treasury and the substance of our people.

It's a monumental task. And, it's right to savor a few victories and the taking back of the House of Representatives, but those who are bent on destroying what has been achieved over the past 90 years still control the Senate and the White House and, to an extent, the U.S. Supreme Court. The only advice is to gird for the struggle ahead and be willing to take to the streets, because that it the only way that the politicians who are in charge will pay attention to the people. With a self-described (white) nationalist in the White House, there will be those who will back up the increasingly erratic and unpredictable president and his frequently unspeakable pronouncements. And, some of them will come armed to his defense. Thugs should be met with resolve, but curbing their worst instincts should be left to law enforcement, in the hope that further chaos is not what Trump intends after his political losses this week. No one wants a second civil war. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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David A. Love, JD
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